The research group led by Professor Varpu Marjomäki of cell and molecular biology at the University of Jyväskylä is investigating how various surfaces and materials can reduce the spread of viral diseases.

Science and technology

Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland have made a breakthrough in the battle against the spread of infectious diseases by developing surfaces tailored to combat viruses, including the coronavirus. Their latest study has discovered that an ingredient found in pine resin significantly reduces the infectivity of coronaviruses on plastic surfaces, offering a promising solution for public spaces and medical facilities.

Viruses can remain infectious on solid surfaces for extended periods, increasing the risk of infection. The research team, led by Professor Varpu Marjomäki of cell and molecular biology, has been investigating how different surfaces and materials can minimize the spread of viral diseases. Their goal includes understanding how long coronaviruses can survive on various surfaces under different humidity and temperature conditions.

"This information could be directly beneficial to both consumers and the industry. Antiviral properties can be utilized in restaurants, daycares, public transport, and stores where surfaces can harbor viruses for a long time, allowing for easy transmission," explains Professor Marjomäki.

In tests conducted at the University's nanoscience center, plastic surfaces containing pine resin were pitted against both seasonal human coronaviruses and the SARS-CoV-2 virus. "In our recent study, we found that viruses could survive on untreated plastic surfaces for more than two days. However, plastic surfaces treated with pine resin showed significant antiviral activity within fifteen minutes of contact and excellent efficacy after thirty minutes," Marjomäki reports with enthusiasm.

The research is part of the BIOPROT project (Development of bio-based and antimicrobial materials and use as protective equipment), funded by Business Finland and conducted in collaboration with the Finnish company Premix Oy. "The project aims to investigate existing antiviral solutions and develop new ones in partnership with companies like Premix Oy. This collaboration will lead to the creation of new products designed to combat future pandemics and epidemics," Marjomäki shares.

The BIOPROT project involves six universities and research institutions, along with several companies, coordinated by LUT University. Its objective is to develop new sustainable and safe material solutions for use in infection prevention, focusing especially on respiratory and surgical masks, as well as reusable industrial-grade protective gear. The project also aims to enhance Europe's self-sufficiency in products and materials.

"Finland has effective antivirals derived from nature that could be used in functionalizing masks and surfaces. Such solutions are still scarce in the market, so we have an opportunity to lead the way," Marjomäki concludes, highlighting the potential of Finnish innovation in global health protection.